DENVER — If campaign donations are a measure of political orientation and enthusiasm, President Barack Obama remains intensely popular among university faculty and staff, outraising presumptive GOP presidential nominee Mitt Romney by a factor of 10 or 20 on some campuses.
Using data available on OpenSecrets.org on July 25, Colorado Watchdog analyzed the contributions of employees at 27 publicly supported campuses.
OpenSecrets.org is a website that aggregates data of political donations at the federal level. While it is widely regarded as one of the most accurate sources for this kind of information, it’s possible the data has minor flaws.
University of Colorado employees gave the president $38,335, nearly six times the $6,550 they donated to Romney’s campaign. U.S. Rep. Ron Paul, R-Texas, collected just $451 from CU donors for his presidential campaign.
At Colorado State, the disparity was more glaring. Employees gave $13,175 to Obama and just $500 to former Pennsylvania U.S. Sen. Rick Santorum. There were no contributions to Romney.
To some, the donations are proof that academia is biased toward liberal candidates and policies.
“I guess it is no wonder why the University of Colorado had to go out and privately finance a professorship for conservative thought,” former GOP state chairman Dick Wadhams quipped.
But for Emory University professor Drew Westen the data are “extraordinary” for a different reason: they confirm his sense that academics are smarter than everyone else.
“The important thing about them to remember is that these are not numbers for social scientists or humanities professors, who might be more culturally liberal,” said Westen, the author of “The Political Brain.” “Prior data have shown that math professors are just as pro-Democratic as sociologists.
“That suggests that people who think logically and have been selected for intellect are more convinced by Democrats than Republicans,” Westen said. “Perhaps that’s not a surprise when you take into consideration that Republicans defy basic math by arguing that you can cut deficits by throwing public employees out of work, which cuts the number of taxpayers (and hence reduces tax revenue), or that you can increase revenue by cutting taxes to the rich. Democrats tend to believe in science, e.g., they don’t believe in angels or Satan, but they do believe in evolution.”
CU spokesman Bronson Hilliard took a less partisan approach to interpreting the data, suggesting that even though some professors may have ideological passions, it doesn’t mean they aren’t fair-minded in the classroom.
“Few meaningful generalizations can be drawn from this (data),” Hilliard said. “A lot of people in higher education are Democrats. A lot of bankers, financiers, and business leaders are Republicans. That doesn’t mean that all academics are incapable of interacting fairly with those who don’t agree with them politically any more than it means Republicans in the financial world aren’t capable of being fair to their Democrat customers and clients.”
Nationwide, only the University of Kentucky bucked the trend, giving $5,400 to Romney, $4,850 to Obama, and $2,152 to Paul.
Results for other universities:
Ohio State University
- $28,680 Obama
- $4,250 Romney
- $250 Paul
University of Minnesota
- $45,399 Obama
- $3,450 Tim Pawlenty
- $2,500 Santorum
- $2,138 Paul
- $250 Jill Stein (Green Party)
- $54,050 Obama
- $2,250 Romney
- $3,157 Paul
- $750 Santorum
- $48,131 Obama
- $1,075 Romney
- $1,000 Santorum
- $201 Paul
University of Maryland
- $63,998 Obama
- $3,500 Romney
- $1,304 Paul
This article first appeared on ColoradoWatchdog.org